1956 Gretsch Chet Atkins Model 6120 Guitar with Case

Value (2010) | $12,000 Retail$15,000 Retail
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GUEST:
This guitar was bought by my grandfather in 1956. He was a country-western musician in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. Over the years, his notoriety was starting to grow. He played on local radio stations. He appeared a few times on a television show in North Carolina called The Parker Smith Show. He bought this and was getting ready to go to the Grand Ole Opry when he passed away, when my dad was eight years old.

APPRAISER:
When did he buy it?

GUEST:
He bought it in 1956, two years before he passed away. My father inherited it, and it basically got stuck in the case and put in a closet for 50 years. He only brought it out, you know, to show company and stuff like that. He did let me string it and play it when I was a teenager, take a couple of guitar lessons.

APPRAISER:
This is a Gretsch Chet Atkins Model 6120, maybe the most common and one of the most sought after country-western guitars. Made in New York City; these were made in Brooklyn.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
It has a serial number on the label-- 20022-- and that signifies it was made in 1956. Pretty amazing. You've got the original warranty certificate and the original warranty card, which was never sent in, but is dated 1956 and signed by your grandfather?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
It's pretty nice to have a direct line like that. It's got their typical, what they called "Western orange" finish. It's got the... looks like the cattle brand "G" logo here, branded in the top. It's got a Western motif "Chet Atkins" right there. Looks like a signpost from your dude ranch. The inlays from just a year earlier and the year before that-- they started making them in '54-- would have had little Western motifs on them, but these are plain pearloid inlays. And it has two DeArmond pickups, Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. All these typical for the model. And everything about this guitar is original, and I think it's the nicest 6120 I've ever seen.

GUEST:
Wow. Thank you.

APPRAISER:
It's got all the wonderful things that the electric guitar collectors call "case candy." It's got all the nice old paper with it. It's got the original strap, which pretty much matches the case band here. It's the original white case. It's got everything you'd want. Pretty amazing. Do you have any idea what your grandfather paid for it back then?

GUEST:
I have no idea. He bought it brand new from a shop in Asheville, North Carolina. I would imagine he would have paid whatever the list price was for the guitar back then.

APPRAISER:
I don't think they were cheap. I think they were probably $300, $350 back even then. That was quite a lot.

GUEST:
That would have been a tremendous amount of money for him.

APPRAISER:
What do you think it's worth?

GUEST:
If I had to guess, I'd say maybe, you know, $1,500, $2,000.

APPRAISER:
Well, that's a good guess, but you're wrong.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
I would suggest that in a retail situation, if this had been in just very good or excellent condition, I might have said $8,000 to $10,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
In this condition, I would suggest $12,000 to $15,000.

GUEST:
That's incredible. My dad would be over the moon.

APPRAISER:
Well, I bet he'd be proud of you for keeping it in this condition all this time.

GUEST:
This was his... this was his pride and joy. I mean, he loved this guitar more... (laughing) almost as much as me.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Vintage Instruments, Inc.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Appraised value (2010)
$12,000 Retail$15,000 Retail
Event
Miami Beach, FL (July 10, 2010)
Period
20th Century
Material
Pearloid, Wood

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